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March 2017

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criminal minds garcia plan b

i spent all day yesterday waiting at a red light

Here's a thing about science fiction fandom that a lot of people who are new to the community may miss, SF prodom is an industry, yes--it's a group of interrelated sole proprietors and corporations and nonprofits all working in the same word mines.

I'm an entrepreneur. I'm a small business, in point of fact.

But I'm also a fan. And fandom intersects with prodom on a thousand different levels, not the least of which is that most SF pros are also SF fans.

And SF Fandom is a functioning, self-sustaining, multi-generational anarchy.

There is no central governing body. There is no system of government. There is no set of checks and balances, no higher authority to whom we can appeal when something hinky is going on, if it's an abusive fan, an unethical writer, or an editor who engages in harassment.

We are it. Fandom. And fandom is you and me and that guy over there who is horrible to everybody.

Fandom is an emergent property of a large group of fans. Nobody planned it. Nobody guided it. It just happened.

And it happened--and continues to happen--in large part because a whole fuckload of people decided to serve it. Not exploit it. Not attempt to co-opt it. But to serve it, with things like fanzines and Fan Funds and fan-run conventions (which are entirely staffed by volunteers, by the way, and the pros who attend them are generally not paid. If we are guests, we may get a per diem for food, a hotel room, and our travel covered. We may get a membership comped if we do program even if we're not guests of the convention, but in those cases we're paying our own expenses to be there. That's it. For a general loss of about a week's working time, and remember--nobody pays us if we don't work.).

They also serve it with the Worldcon, and with the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Awards. Which are (again) administrated by volunteers. There's no glory in administrating awards, and a huge pile of backbreaking and thankless labor, and often a great deal of annoyance and wank and farmed or native drama.

Fandom happens because people take care of it, nurture it, and make it a fun place for people to be. Preferably, an inclusive place. If anything, we often err too far on the side of putting up with assholes, because we're bad at excluding people.

There are plenty of people in fandom who I think are jerks, idiots, pains in the ass, complete eye-rolling cramps, and/or moon men. Some of those people do valuable work for the community, even while I'm facepalming over their opinions.

All of them got into it the same way I did--by being volunteered or (as is very common) voluntold.

These people refer to themselves as SMoFs as a joke, you understand. Jobs often get done in haphazard ass-backward ways because they are done by anybody willing, and often on limited time, in the cracks of a busy life, and with little or no funding.

Some people in the community do not contribute in any meaningful way. But its awfully hard to actually run those people off, because we are--as I mentioned above--an anarchy. Fandom has no Office of Asshole Removal*.

Nobody is in charge, is what I'm saying. Fandom therefore demands both patience and personal responsibility of us all.

What we do have, though, are antibodies. We have ways of spreading information, and dealing with problems, and we have very long institutional memories. We have an understanding that any scalpel can also be used as a knife, and so--even though we make mistakes, and a lot of them, we tend to be self-correcting in the long run.

This is not the first time All Fandom Has Been Plunged Into War. It will not be the last.

But it's also not going to break fandom.

Because the great thing about anarchies is that they are very resilient, and they are also very good at establishing customs of the tribe, which is pretty much how anarchic, egalitarian, tribal societies usually organize themselves.

There's a new custom circulating in my tribe, and I think it's a good one, so I will be adopting it.

I have not in the past and I will not in the future participate in any popular award voting slate, public or private. I will not vote for any story or person or institution that is nominated for a popular award after agreeing to be on such a slate.

I believe that slate-voting is unethical and perverts the purpose of the awards--and disadvantages almost everyone, quite frankly--and I am personally invested in making sure my fandom does not decay into a series of cage matches.

That is the ethical decision I am making for myself.

I have no problem with recommendations, with Hugo discussion, with eligibility lists, with people saying "I think this is my best work last year and if you are nominating and care to read it, it's available here." (I do not particularly like the "I will send a copy to any nominator who wants one," practice, but I don't think it's unethical, just cheap.)

I have, however, a big problem with the party lever. Because I'm not much of one for parties at all.

There are some friends of mine on the Sad Puppies slate, and some people who I consider very good at their jobs. I'll be leaving them off the ballot, not merely placing them under "No Award."

Because this is how fandom's antibodies work. We each make a personal decision what we will and won't participate in, and then we stick to it.

At least the Hugo voting will be easy and fast this year**.

It usually takes me weeks to make my decisions. 



*(And in those cases where there is an organization with an Office of Asshole Removal (or, as some people call it, an H. R. Department, or a con grievance committee) that's often even more thankless work--because H.R. Departments and volunteer organizations move at the speed of Lawsuit Prevention, not the speed of the Court of the Internets.)

**Someday we'll have the 2014 Retro Hugos, though, and I'm going to be chewing my pencil over that.

Replies are turned off because I am a busy woman, and there are plenty of well-curated places to discuss the issues.

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